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No. 6 men’s lacrosse trumps Saint Joseph’s 17-11 as Cormier breaks NCAA scoring record

The Cavaliers advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament with their win over the Hawks

<p>Cormier's eighth goal of the day enshrined him as the NCAA's all-time leading goalscorer.</p>

Cormier's eighth goal of the day enshrined him as the NCAA's all-time leading goalscorer.

Virginia men’s lacrosse hosted Saint Joseph’s at Klöckner Stadium for the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday. The No. 6 seed Cavaliers (11-5, 1-3 ACC) held the lead for the final 52 minutes of the game as they comfortably defeated the Hawks (12-4, 5-0 A-10) 17-11 to advance to the quarterfinals. Graduate attackman Payton Cormier had a historic day to lead Virginia, scoring a program postseason record eight goals — the last of which enshrined him as the all-time leading goalscorer in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse history.

The two teams entered Saturday with completely different sets of momentum, as the Cavaliers were losers of their last four games while Saint Joseph’s boasted a 12-game winning streak that had most recently featured an Atlantic 10 Championship victory over Richmond. The slightest whispers of worry about a potential season-ending, fifth consecutive loss moved around Klöckner as the Hawks took an early 1-0 lead with a goal from graduate midfielder Colin Reich. 

But in almost no time, Virginia turned it around. Junior midfielder Anthony Ghobriel won the ensuing draw, and 44 seconds later, junior midfielder Griffin Schutz dispatched an equalizing goal with 13 minutes left in the quarter. Ghobriel won the next two draws, and the Cavaliers promptly scored on both, as Cormier converted on a man-up opportunity and sophomore midfielder Joey Terenzi found the net less than a minute later.

Saint Joseph’s did not back down, however, as the visitors would put home two unanswered goals courtesy of senior attackman Carter Page and graduate attackman Toron Eccleston to knot the score at three. But Schutz and graduate attackman Connor Shellenberger responded with goals in quick succession to restore Virginia’s two-goal lead — Schutz’s effort halfway through the opening period gave the Cavaliers a lead they would never relinquish.

Another goal by Cormier from the right wing canceled out a Hawks goal and sent Virginia into the second quarter holding a 6-4 advantage. While that lead was halved early in the second quarter after another goal from Page, the Cavaliers would pour in five more goals before the halftime buzzer sounded, with three coming from Cormier. Graduate attackman Jack Boyden got on the scoresheet with just under 14 minutes remaining before Cormier rattled in back-to-back goals within 12 seconds to put Virginia into a 9-5 lead. Shellenberger assisted all three goals.

The bulk of the scoring work in the second quarter came early on, as after Cormier’s goal with a little under six minutes remaining — his fifth of the game — the two teams both went scoreless until halftime. The Cavaliers led 11-6 heading for the break, a healthy cushion that they only built on after emerging for the final two quarters.

Cormier picked up in the third quarter right where he left off in the second, using another draw win from Ghobriel to score just 19 seconds into the second half. A touch more than a minute later, Cormier received a skip pass from freshman attackman McCabe Millon, worked around a defender and sent the ball into the net for the seventh time in the game. The goal was Cormier’s 62nd of the year, breaking the program’s single-season scoring record and giving Virginia a commanding seven-goal lead in a game that was quickly getting away from Saint Joseph’s. 

Later in the quarter, as the clock ticked under eight minutes with the Cavaliers in front 14-8, Cormier made more history. Shellenberger found his fellow graduate attackman on the right wing with a quick snap pass, and Cormier wasted no time turning and firing the ball goalwards for his eighth goal of the day and 222nd of his career — a new NCAA Division I record, beating the mark held by Penn State’s Mac O’Keefe since 2021. 

The Hawks would score three of the final four goals in the game, but Virginia’s lead was too large as it coasted to a 17-11 win and secured a place in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Cormier was the star of the day, both on the statsheet and in the history books, but the Cavaliers had several notable performers — Shellenberger produced a pair of goals to go with four assists, while Boyden, Schutz, junior defenseman Ben Wayer and Millon all recorded multiple-point days as well. 

While Virginia is always confident about its chances in a given game, the victory will help them in that department. Before Saturday, the Cavaliers had not won a contest since April 6 against North Carolina. All four of their losses in between came against top-10 programs and thus did not ring too many alarm bells about the team’s tournament hopes, but nonetheless, Virginia needed a performance like this one to reassert itself as a true contender.

The Cavaliers will face No. 3 Johns Hopkins — who Virginia fell to earlier this season — in the quarterfinals Sunday at 2:30 p.m., with a trip to Philadelphia for the NCAA Championship on the line. The game will be streamed on ESPNU.


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